We weren’t sure it would work. We love the barn swallows that return every year to nest in the Main Barn. High up. Thirty feet high, on beams and wires that cross above the stalls, aisles and grooming bays. We welcome them (they eat tons of flies!) but we needed to coax them to nest lower, where we could reach them if they became tangled in the horse tail hairs they like to add to their mud nests. 

This spring, before they returned for the season (by the skin of our teeth), we removed their old nests and installed bird netting in the highest parts of the barn. But how to persuade them to nest within ladder reach?

A bit of online research produced the idea of nesting cups. These handsome pieces of woodwork came from American Artifacts.

We ordered 20 and put them up above the stalls, where the swallows seem to prefer nesting, and held our breath as the first pairs came swooping in.

At first, they were quite offended that they couldn’t reach the high beams. They’d fly up, encounter the net and bounce back, flitting back and forth in annoyance.  But after only a few days, someone pointed up and said, “Look!” 

There she (or he) was, staking a claim to one of the nesting cups. We now have several new nests in the cups and looking forward to baby swallows.